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creekside on intrawest

Creekside applauds Whistler Station plans Dozens of thumbs up as merchants like themes, pace of development By Chris Woodall You can almost see the big cheese-eating grins of Creekside's merchants after they heard of Intrawest's development plans for the Creekside base of Whistler Mountain. Response to Whistler Station has been positive, even down-right enthusiastic. Although the slower pace of Creekside is valued, merchants there have bemoaned for years the area languishing while Whistler Village grew like Topsy. Now it's Creekside's turn to hear the roar of bulldozers and experience the thrill of fresh paint. "It think they're great," Ron Hosner says of Intrawest's plans. Hosner owns the Creekside Grill Room and Hoz's Pub on Lake Placid Road. "I like the idea that Intrawest's bed units are staying in the south," he says. "It's something we've been waiting for some time for," he says. "The phasing is good and I like Intrawest's vision of Whistler South (Spring Creek)," Hosner says. Yet there is a "wait and see" attitude among Creekside merchants. "Intrawest seems to be sensitive to the character of the area, but we'll just have to see what comes out" in the end, says Gordon McKeever, chair of the Creekside Merchants Association and owner of Rainbow Retreats. The association meets today (Friday) to go over Intrawest's plans in detail. "We've all been sitting on our hands waiting for Intrawest to develop its Creekside properties," McKeever says. "This area has always been pretty flexible in its approach to its growth," McKeever says. "Intrawest's plans are consistent with our values of Creekside." The different look for Whistler Station is welcome. "I'm very happy Intrawest is not imitating the village," McKeever says of architectural designs that will hearken to a heritage look for Whistler Station. Lowering the density of the projects is a good thing, too. Intrawest diverted 590 bed units to a future two-building condo hotel on the Benchlands. "This is an area that has always had a lot of shoulder room," McKeever says of his home turf. The slower pace of development plans is also appreciated. "Hopefully it won't happen all at once. One of the benefits of being in Creekside is the freedom from the chaos of development," McKeever says. "I don't think anyone wants to see it all happen in one season." McKeever also hopes the Whistler Station name indicates strong support by Intrawest to have the BC Rail Whistler stop at the foot of Lake Placid Road improved, even though it is at the far end of the road and across the highway from Intrawest's property. "I think it'll be good to get the area going," says Jerry Marsh, owner of the Food Plus convenience store at the base of Gondola Village. "There's the possibility of competition for customers, but the new shops will attract more people and the condos mean more people living here," Marsh says. Marsh is happy to see the Whistler Mountain day skier parking lot, that sometimes resembles a First World War battlefield, disappear in exchange for a four-storey parking garage bordered on the Lake Placid Road side by boutiques. "It'll definitely be good to get rid of the parking lot the way it is now with all the dust," Marsh says. Intrawest's construction schedule may even affect a wider area. "Maybe it'll get the muni going with the west side of Lake Placid Road to the train station," Marsh says. As for "Whistler Station" dominating the Creekside name for the area, McKeever is not concerned. "It was Alta Lake, then the Gondola Area — even after there was no gondola — then Whistler Creek and then the name moved into Creekside. Only the area clustered around the base of the mountain will be Whistler Station, but the public's will or history will change it or not," McKeever says. "Creekside's merchants have been a very patient group," McKeever says. "It's time."